Traveler's Family Vacation Planner: Virginia

Adventure

Breaks Interstate Park See the beauty of the deepest gorge east of the Mississippi, carved by the raging Big Sandy River; hike 25 miles of trail and go for a swim in Laurel Lake; raft the Russell Fork River. Ky-Va 80, 8 miles north of Haysi, VA; 800 982 5122.

Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail Travel the path blazed by the great explorer himself; follow this trail all the way to Cumberland Gap, stopping along the way to enjoy the beautiful vistas or to read any of the informative signs that expound on the history of the area. 114 East Jackson St., Gate City, VA; +1 276 523 2005.

Shenandoah National Park Observe a red-tailed hawk in its natural habitat at this pristine national park; drive the scenic Skyline Drive, then go backcountry camping; take a cool dip in a waterfall or take on the rock scramble on Old Rag mountain. U.S. Highway 211 East, Luray, VA; +1 540 999 3500. Fee.

Animals

Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Explore over 9,000 acres of this freshwater refuge; witness endangered species such as bald eagles and loggerhead sea turtles; observe nearly 10,000 snow geese as they migrate up the coast. 4005 Sandpiper Rd., Virginia Beach, VA; +1 757 721 2412. Fee.

Natural Bridge Zoo Ride an elephant, see a macaw, or pet a llama at Virginia's largest animal collection; see where rare and endangered animals like the ring-tailed lemur are bred and raised. 5784 S. Lee Highway, Natural Bridge, VA; +1 540 291 2420. Fee.

The Virginia Zoo Get nose to nose with an adventurous prairie dog at the interactive prairie dog habitat; meet a tree frog; listen to zoo volunteers tell stories about the zoo's animals. Head over to the barnyard to feed a new friend. 3500 Granby St., Norfolk, VA; +1 757 441 2706. Fee.

Culture

Abingdon Visit this quaint mountain town buried in the Blue Ridge highlands. Tour the historic downtown district, filled with 19th century homes; see the 1860 Fields-Penn House Museum. See contemporary artists at work in the 1890's freight station then spend the night in one of the picturesque mountain inns. 335 Cummings St., Abingdon, VA; 800 435 3440.

Ash Lawn-Highland Visit the home of the nation's fifth President, James Monroe; tour the 535-acre working farm, see peacocks, cows, sheep, and chickens; inspect the accurately restored house and two original slave quarters to understand early 19th century plantation life. 1000 James Monroe Parkway, Charlottesville, VA; +1 434 293 9539. Fee.

Berkeley Plantation Discover the site of the first official Thanksgiving at this restored 17th century Georgian estate on the James River; tour the house with guides in period costumes; explore the five terraced gardens leading down to the James River. 12602 Harrison Landing Road, Charles City, VA; 888 466 6018. Fee.

Blue Ridge Institute & Museum Discover the folkways of the people living in the Blue Ridge mountains; watch costumed interpreters drive oxen and do blacksmithing; hear the bluegrass sounds of the region at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival. 20 Museum Drive, Ferrum, VA; +1 540 365 4416. Fee.

Cape Henry Lighthouses Brighten up your vacation with a trip to the historic Old Cape Henry Lighthouse; see the still functioning New Cape Henry lighthouse; enjoy the same scenic views of the Chesapeake Bay that the original settlers had, from First Landing state park. Fort Story Army Base, Virginia Beach, VA; +1 757 422 9421.

Chelsea Plantation Admire this fine example of 18th-century Georgian architecture, then explore the extensive five-acre English boxwood gardens with a view overlooking the Mattaponi River; see the lawns where Thomas Jefferson once attended social functions. 874 Chelsea Plantation Lane, West Point, VA; +1 804 843 2386.

Children's Museum of Richmond Discover this exciting hand's-on museum designed specifically for children. Learn through interactive exhibits, come in the morning to meet Seymour the Friendly Dinosaur. 2626 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA; +1 804 474 7000. Fee.

Children's Museum of Virginia Gaze at the stars in the planetarium or pretend you're a conductor with the toy train collection. Take a class to learn about artists and their work, then make your own. 221 High Street, Portsmouth, VA; +1 757 393 5258.

Chrysler Museum of Art Explore almost 5,000 years of art history; take in kid-friendly summertime film showings; attend weekly talks designed to help children appreciate art both inside and outside the museum. 245 West Olney Rd., Norfolk, VA; +1 757 664 6200. Fee.

College of William and Mary Stroll the grounds of the second-oldest college in the United States, which educated presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe; visit the landmark Wren Building, one of America's oldest classrooms; play Frisbee or picnic in the historic Sunken Gardens. 116 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA; +1 757 221 4000.

Colonial Williamsburg Witness the 18th century come to life as you see Patrick Henry or Ariana Randolph walk the streets in the colonial city, once the center of government and culture in Virginia; march with a fife and drum band; tend a colonial garden and learn about blacksmithing or barrel-making from colonial re-enactors. 101A Visitor Center Dr., Williamsburg, VA; 800 246 2099. Fee.

Contemporary Art Center of Virginia Dive into the world of contemporary art with paintings and sculptures, and visual and exploratory pieces by both local and international artists; attend a Family Fest event to celebrate the opening of a new exhibit. 2200 Parks Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA; +1 757 425 0000. Fee.

Crab Orchard Museum & Pioneer Park Discover the cultural heritage of the Appalachian people at this scenic museum in the heart of the mountains; see Native American artifacts dating to 600 years ago and learn about the settlers who managed to surmount the local terrain and form communities. 3663 Crab Orchard Rd., Tazewell, VA; +1 276 988 6755.

d'ART Center Observe real artists at work at any of 28 working studios where 40 of the region's best artists create their masterpieces; purchase any of the artwork made on site; make and take your own original piece home at one of the unique workshops. 208 E. Main Street, Norfolk, VA; +1 757 625 4211.

Edgar Allen Poe Museum Retreat into the early 19th century life and times of Edgar Allen Poe; discover pictures, relics, and manuscripts from the great author's life; marvel at the scale reproduction of the 19th century Richmond that Poe inhabited and see some of his works that have never been displayed anywhere else. 1914 E. Main St., Richmond, VA; 888 213 2763. Fee.

Frontier Culture Museum Discover how settlers survived by seeing live costumed re-enactors work these real farms, replicas of the ones immigrants from many nations left behind when they came to settle America. 1290 Richmond Rd, Staunton, VA; +1 540 332 7850. Fee.

George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate Visit the home of America's first president; see the gristmill where Washington made his flour then walk the 1/4-mile Forest Trail; stand on the front porch of Washington's house as you look out on the Potomac River. 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mount Vernon, VA; +1 703 780 2000. Fee.

Gunston Hall Tour the home of the father of the Bill of Rights, George Mason; admire the Georgian architecture then see the Devon steer kept on the farm; walk through the formal gardens on the grounds. 10709 Gunston Road, Mason Neck, VA; +1 703 550 9220. Fee.

Hermitage Foundation Museum Wander for hours amidst this beautiful early 20th century estate; enjoy the constantly changing contemporary art exhibitions or make use of your hands by taking a multi-media art class; stroll the waterfront gardens and see a variety of seasonal events. 7637 North Shore Road, Norfolk, VA; +1 757 423 2052.

James River Plantations Spend the day at an historic plantation; see the views of the James River; wander the grounds Confederate troops used as bases; tour the formal gardens of the Westover estate, and visit the friendly goats at Shirley Plantation. Virginia Route 5 Scenic Byway, Charles City, VA; +1 804 829 2882. Fee.

Loudoun Heritage Farm Museum Travel back in time and be a farmer for the day at this museum that tells the story of the local farmers through 250 years of history. 21668 Heritage Farm Lane, Sterling, VA; +1 571 258 3800. Fee.

Loudoun Museum See an original log cabin and discover the rich settlement history of the region; walk around a 19th-century Quaker kitchen and play with Quaker toys in the Discovery Room. 16 Loudoun St., Leesburg, VA; +1 703 777 7427. Fee.

Lynnhaven House Listen to costumed guides talk about the way of life in 1700s Virginia. Tour the house, which remains 85 percent original; explore the on-site Revolutionary War graveyard. 4401 Wishart Rd., Virginia Beach, VA; +1 757 460 1688. Fee.

MacCallum More Museum and Gardens Breathe in and enjoy the fresh smells of the organically maintained botanical arboretum and gardens. Step inside the museum to learn the history of the region. See a 17th-century Samurai warrior and a first-century Roman bust. 603 Hudgins St., Chase City, VA; +1 434 372 0502. Fee.

Mathews County Explore one of the oldest and most scenic settlements on Virginia's northern neck. Climb to the top of the centuries old lighthouse commissioned in 1801 by Thomas Jefferson or visit the Gwynn's island museum highlighting the unique history of this isolated corner of Virginia. With beaches, museums and more this is the perfect getaway town on the Chesapeake. 239 Main St., Mathews, VA; 877 725 4BAY.

Monacan Indian Living History Village Travel 300 years back in time to a living Indian village; learn how they fished, gardened, and built canoes. 15 Appledore Lane, Natural Bridge, VA; 800 533 1410. Fee.

Monticello Visit the house that's on the back of every nickel, the home of the United States' third president, Thomas Jefferson; learn about the life of this renaissance man as you tour the building and see furniture and gadgets he designed himself, including a revolving bookstand, a wine dumbwaiter, and a solar microscope; see Native American artifacts and natural history specimens sent back to Jefferson by Lewis and Clark from their famous expedition; walk the grounds and see the restored orchards, flower and vegetable gardens. 931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville, VA; +1 434 984 9800. Fee.

Montpelier Visit the home of the fourth U.S. president, James Madison, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains; learn about the restoration of the mansion; walk the trails of the James Madison Landmark Forest, an old-growth forest designated as a National Natural Landmark; check out the progress of the archaeological dig on the grounds. 11395 Constitution Highway, Montpelier Station, VA; +1 540 672 2728. Fee.

Museum of Culpeper History Enter a completely restored 18th-century log cabin and then observe a living Native American village. Check out the 215-million-year-old dino tracks. 803 S. Main St., Culpeper, VA; +1 540 829 1749. Fee.

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley See a tall clock that was made around 1795; explore the richly furnished home of the last descendant of the town's founder; tour the scenic botanical gardens to see hybrid tea rose bushes. 901 Amherst Street, Winchester, VA; 888 556 5799. Fee.

The Newsome House Museum & Cultural Center Admire the life of one of Virginia's first post Civil-war African American leaders, J. Thomas Newsome; watch one of many documentaries about the civil rights struggle in Virginia, from post-Civil War to current times. 2803 Oak Avenue, Newport News, VA; +1 757 247 2360.

Pamunkey Indian Museum Learn about the day-to-day lives of the Pamunkey Indians in the structure modeled to resemble the houses of the ancient Pamunkey; appreciate original artifacts and tools that span from the Ice Age to present day. 175 Lay Landing Road, King William, VA; +1 804 843 4792.

Piney Grove at Southall's Plantation Admire one of the best preserved examples of early Virginia log architecture; spend the night in one of the historic rooms or just come for the day to explore the nature trail, slave quarters, and smokehouse from the three centuries of history of the plantation. 16920 Southall Plantation Lane, Williamsburg, VA; +1 804 829 2196. Fee.

Presidents Park Walk among larger-than-life busts of all the nation's presidents, created by sculptor David Adickes; enjoy the woodland setting as you learn about the history and importance of the Constitution and the Presidency. 211 Water Country Parkway, Williamsburg, VA; 800 588 4327. Fee.

Roaring Twenties Antique Car Museum Find your way to this museum that's off the beaten path but well worth it for any car lover. See a variety of antique cars, including Studebakers and Cadillacs from the 1920s. Learn how car's evolved in the early part of the 20th century. 1445 Wolftown-Hood Rd., Hood, VA; +1 540 948 6290.

Rosewell Ruins Investigate the fascinating world of archaeology at the scorched ruins of Virginia Governor John Page's estate; do a little digging of your own and you just might find one of the countless artifacts scattered around the 3,000-acre grounds. 5113 Old Rosewell Lane, Gloucester, VA; +1 804 693 2585. Fee.

Route 11 Chip Factory See where the magic happens as you observe the manufacturing process of Route 11 Chips; step onto the factory floor to pull a fresh chip off the conveyor belt and try it yourself. 7815 Main Street, Middletown, VA; 800 294 7783.

Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum Visit this hands-on museum that's particularly well suited for kids. Try your hand at being a doctor in the Emergency Clinic, or learn more about Native Americans by taking a stop on the Moccasin trail. 54 S. Loudoun St., Winchester, VA; +1 540 722 2020. Fee.

Stratford Hall Visit the birthplace of famed Confederate general Robert E. Lee; enjoy the 1900 acres of farmland that looks out over the Potomac River; explore the Great House, filled with colonial architecture; learn how grain was made during the period at the working gristmill. 483 Great House Road, Stratford, VA; +1 804 493 8038.

Taubman Museum of Art Explore artwork ranging from cutting-edge contemporary to 17th-century Italian in the rotating exhibits at this state-of-the-art museum. Try out hands-on activities or catch performances at Art Venture. 110 Salem Ave. SE, Roanoke, VA; +1 540 342 5760. Fee.

Torpedo Factory Art Center See over 80 working artists, paint, sculpt and create; purchase many of the pieces you see made and then sign up for an art class and make a piece of your own. 105 North Union Street, Alexandria, VA; +1 703 838 4565.

University of Virginia Art Museum Visit this highly regarded collection of art from around the globe on the campus of Thomas Jefferson's university; see art specifically selected from the "Age of Jefferson," then admire some of the international collections from regions such as Africa, the Mediterranean, and Asia; learn from one of the educational programs offered about the different collections. 155 Rugby Road, Charlottesville, VA; +1 434 924 3592.

University of Virginia Rotunda and Grounds Visit the only state university designed by a U.S. president; explore Thomas Jefferson's concept of an Academical Village with classrooms, student housing and professors' residences grouped around an expansive Lawn; enter the domed Rotunda, also designed by Jefferson, and the original site of the library that gave birth to the Library of Congress. University Ave, Charlottesville, VA; +1 434 924-7969.

The Valentine Richmond History Center Tour the 1812 Wickham House and learn how a wealthy Richmond family endured the Virginia summer heat without air conditioning; visit the Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio to see the models, materials and tools used by one of America's premier 19th-century sculptors. 1015 E. Clay Street, Richmond, VA; +1 804 649 0711. Fee.

Virginia Center for Architecture Learn about John Russell Pope, the architect responsible for the Jefferson Memorial, the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art; view exhibits on contemporary architecture and design; explore the public areas of this 27,000-square-foot, castle-like Tudor revival mansion that Pope built for a wealthy Richmond businessman in 1918, that is now home to one of the few museums in America devoted to the study and practice of architecture. 2501 Monument Ave., Richmond, VA; +1 804 644 3041.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Discover world art from ancient times to modern; see the famous imperial Russian Easter Eggs of Faberge or marvel at the collection of ancient Egyptian art. 200 N. Boulevard, Richmond, VA; +1 804 340 1400.

Watermen's Museum Learn about the people who have made their living on the Chesapeake Bay, from the Indians to the present day commercial fishermen, boat builders and pilots; see the boats, nets, and techniques that have been passed down for generations. 309 Water Street, Yorktown, VA; +1 757 887 2641. Fee.

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Visit the birthplace of the 28th president; tour the scenic Victorian gardens; see exhibits with artifacts from the great man's early years. 18-24 North Coalter St., Staunton, VA; +1 540 885 0897. Fee.

Entertainment

Amazement Square Visit this attraction particularly well suited for preteens and younger. Try your hand at creating silver objects. Explore life on the Nile at the Ancient Egypt exhibit. 27 Ninth St., Lynchburg, VA; +1 434 845 1888.

Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center Take an interactive musical journey into the world of Appalachian bluegrass through the sounds and history of legendary performer Ralph Stanley. 249 Main Street, Clintwood, VA; +1 276 926 8550. Fee.

Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Discover the world of Virginia sports. Get in the game with many of the exhibits featuring interactive baseball, basketball, football, and soccer activities. Enjoy the digital theater as it shows a multimedia presentation exploring Virginia sports traditions. 206 High St., Portsmouth, VA; +1 757 393 8031. Fee.

History

African-American Heritage Sites Visit Hampton to explore the area's rich African-American history; explore "Freedoms Fortress" at Fort Monroe, where runaways once holed up during the civil war; see the Emancipation Oak where President Lincoln read the Emancipation Proclamation to local African Americans. 710 Settlers Landing Road, Hampton, VA; 800 800 2202.

Alexandria Black History Museum Learn how African-American leaders struggled for freedom by viewing the "Securing the Blessings of Liberty" exhibit; reflect on the sacrifices of civil rights leaders in the nine-acre park. 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA; +1 703 838 4356.

American Armored Foundation Tank Museum Satisfy your desire to climb aboard a monstrous tank amidst this huge collection of over a hundred tanks and artillery pieces; explore the clothing, weaponry, and techniques of armored warfare in the 300,000 square feet of military history gathered here. 3401 U.S. Hwy 29B, Danville, VA; +1 434 836 5323.

The American Civil War Center Discover things you never knew about the Civil War at this extensive collection that examines the struggle from three perspectives: Union, Confederate, and African-American; explore the building that used to be the Tredegar Iron Works, the industrial heart of the Confederacy; hear stories from the home front during the Civil War, and learn secrets of prison camp survival. 500 Tredegar Street, Richmond, VA; +1 804 780 1865. Fee.

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park See the site where Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant to end the Civil War; take a tour of the house, which has been faithfully restored to its 1860s' condition. Hwy 24, Appomattox, VA; +1 434 352 8987. Fee.

Arlington National Cemetery Reflect on the sacrifices made by generations of noble Americans; see the eternal flame at John F. Kennedy's gravesite and meditate over the fate of the Unknown Soldier. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA; +1 703 607 8000.

Army Quartermaster Museum Tour the only museum dedicated to the Army's oldest logistics branch; see exhibits explaining how the Army kept and keeps its soldiers clothed, fed, and equipped; smell bread baking in a World War II field bakery oven, see the hardtack biscuits soldiers lived on during the Civil War, and learn what it's like to cook and manufacture clothing for thousands of soldiers. Building 5218, A Avenue, Fort Lee, VA; +1 804 734 4203.

Booker T. Washington National Monument Learn about the history of one of America's most influential African-Americans; walk the 1/4-mile plantation trail to see reconstructions of 19th century buildings on the farm where Booker was born to a slave. 12130 Booker T. Washington Highway, Hardy, VA; +1 540 721 2094.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial Tour the site of one of the bloodiest battles in American history at Chancellorsville. See where General Stonewall Jackson made his famous last stand; take a guided tour to learn more about these legendary clashes and others. Fredericksburg, VA; +1 540 786 2880.

Colonial National Historical Park Learn about the lives of John Smith and Pocahontas at Jamestown, site of first permanent English settlement in North America; observe how soldiers lived and fought at Yorktown Battlefield, site of the final major conflict of the Revolutionary War. Colonial Parkway, Jamestown, VA; +1 757 898 2410. Fee.

Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site See the best-preserved Union fort in the DC area. Tour an officer's hut to learn how a US Army officer lived during the Civil War; watch re-enactors interpret the lives of the soldiers who helped to protect Washington D.C. from the Confederacy. 4301 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA; +1 703 838 4848.

Hampton Roads Naval Museum Explore over 225 years of Naval history from the Hampton Roads region; learn from exhibits outlining the Navy's long past of defending the Chesapeake Bay; follow the exploits of the famous Civil War ironclads, the Monitor and the Merrimac. 1 Waterside Drive Suite 248, Norfolk, VA; +1 757 322 2986.

Manassas National Battlefield State Park View civil war weapons, uniforms and field equipment; play with the electronic battle map to understand field strategy and tactics; walk the Henry Hill Trail. 12521 Lee Highway, Manassas, VA; +1 703 361 1339. Fee.

The Mariners' Museum Learn from exhibits covering over 500 years of adventures on the sea; check out the more than 50 ship models inside; examine artifacts from the Civil War ironclad, the USS Monitor. 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA; 800 581 7245. Fee.

The Museum of the Confederacy View some of the museum's enormous collection of artifacts relating to the Confederacy, including uniforms, photographs, swords, firearms, Confederate money, and wartime goods such as wooden shoes and homemade soap; see exhibits containing the personal effects of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Gen. Robert E. Lee; tour the White House of the Confederacy, where Jefferson Davis and his family lived during the Civil War. 1201 E. Clay Street, Richmond, VA; +1 804 649 1861. Fee.

Museum of the Middle Appalachians Unearth the natural history of this region by seeing replicas of the wooly mammoths and mastodons that roamed these hills during the Ice Age; see artifacts from the native Woodland Indians; learn about the Civil War battles fought over the local town. 123 Palmer Ave., Saltville, VA; +1 276 496 3633. Fee.

National Firearms Museum See one of the nation's only collection of Pinfire Rifles; view the exhibit on the Old West, featuring the Winchester rifle. 11250 Waples Mill Rd., Fairfax, VA; +1 703 267 1600.

National Museum of the Marine Corps Celebrate the rich history of one of America's bravest fighting forces; experience motion, sound, and video as you land on Iwo Jima or experience the elements at the Korean War winter warfare room. 18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy, Triangle, VA; 877 635 1775.

New Market Battlefield State Historical Park and Hall of Valor Civil War Museum Come see where 257 VMI cadets won a valiant victory for the Confederacy; watch the oldest annual battle reenactment in the country, then tour the Bushong farmhouse that served as an impromptu field hospital. 8895 George Collins Parkway, New Market, VA; 866 515 1864. Fee. t

Pamplin Historical Park, Civil War Adventure Camps Visit a unique Civil War attraction at the site of the historic Petersburg Campaign; try on child-sized Civil War uniforms, listen to the words of a 13-year-old drummer boy; sign up for a weekend immersion experience for the whole family where you practice military drills, eat soldier grub, sleep in tents and maybe even fire a musket. 6125 Boydton Plank Road, Petersburg, VA; 877 726 7546. Fee.

Petersburg National Battlefield Discover the history behind the Civil War's longest battle; learn from exhibits covering all aspects of the nine-and-a-half-month siege of Petersburg that led to the fall of the Confederacy; and tour the house and grounds where U.S. General Grant made his headquarters.5001 Siege Rd., Petersburg, VA; +1 804 732 3531.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Museum Investigate the country's oldest and largest naval shipyard by exploring the tools, techniques, and trade of shipbuilding; take on a scavenger hunt that begins in the kid-friendly Discovery Cove; attend a history-themed weekend event for families. 2 High St., Portsmouth, VA; +1 757 393 8591. Fee.

Reedville Fishermen's Museum Absorb the rich history of the local tradesmen that have supported the Northern Neck communities for centuries; see the William Walker House to learn how a normal waterman lived in the late 19th century; charter or cruise around on a real 42-foot skipjack boat, just like the historic fishermen used. 474 Main St., Reedville, VA; +1 804 453 6529. Fee.

Red Hill Patrick Henry National Memorial Visit the home of one of America's greatest patriots; view educational films on the life and times of Patrick Henry, then tour the grounds and houses of his estate; see where the statesman was laid to rest. 1250 Red Hill Road, Brookneal, VA; 800 514 7463.

Richmond National Battlefield Park Tour almost 2,000 acres of protected historic ground consisting of 13 Civil War battlefields then explore how the soldiers were treated for wounds at the Chimborazo Medical Museum; learn how iron weapons were made. 470 Tredegar Street, Richmond, VA; +1 804 226 1981. Fee.

Smithfield Historic District See all that historic Smithfield has to offer, from the historic 1750 courthouse to the Isle of Wight County museum, featuring the history of the famous Smithfield Hams; explore the 17th-century fort at Fort Boykin State Park. 219B Main Street, Smithfield, VA; 800 365 9339.

Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park Uncover the stories of the people, who settled this rugged terrain; take a look at the French artwork and custom-made china that once belonged to the wealthy owners of the house museum. 10 W. First Street, Big Stone Gap, VA; +1 276 523 1322. Fee.

U.S. Army Transportation Museum Examine the artifacts at this museum dedicated solely to the history of the Army's Transportation Corps, all the way from the time of horse-drawn wagons of the Revolutionary War to modern-day all-terrain armored vehicles. 300 Washington Blvd., Newport News, VA; +1 757 878 1115.

U.S. Army Women's Museum Explore the only museum in the world dedicated to Army women; discover the contributions women have made to America's armed forces from Bunker Hill to the present; check out the exhibit dedicated to the first woman to earn the Silver Star for combat action. 2100 A Avenue, Fort Lee, VA; +1 804 734 4327.

U.S.S. Wisconsin Take advantage of the rich military history of the Hampton Roads region by boarding a U.S. Navy Iowa-class battleship; explore the weaponry on board and learn what the life of a sailor is like by examining crew quarters. 1 Waterside Drive Suite 248, Norfolk, VA; +1 757 322 2986.

Virginia Aviation Museum Marvel at this wonderful collection of aircraft both old and new; see an airworthy Wright Flyer, or get inside the cockpit of the first American aircraft to fly to Antarctica; observe a real spy plane up close, with the genuine SR-71 Blackbird on permanent display. 5701 Huntsman Rd., Richmond, VA; +1 804 236 3622.

Virginia's Explore Park Explore three centuries of Virginia history through living exhibits; see the life of a 17th-century Native American, the tough existence of an 18th-century frontier settler, and the development of a 19th-century town. Milepost 115 Blue Ridge Parkway, Roanoke, VA; 800 842 9163. Fee.

Virginia Historical Society Investigate 16,000 years of Virginia history from prehistoric times to the present through archaeological objects, paintings, maps, historic photographs, flags, weapons, books, cartoons, movie posters, medals, everyday artifacts, and large-scale vehicles such as a dugout canoe, a Conestoga wagon, and a street car; visit the History Discovery Lab for hands-on activities related to archaeology and architecture; learn how the Confederacy manufactured its own muskets, rifles, pistols and swords during the Civil War. 428 North Boulevard, Richmond, VA; +1 804 358 4901. Fee.

Virginia Holocaust Museum Remember the Holocaust and learn from its memory by following the story of the Ipp family; see how they survived for nine months underneath a potato field in Lithuania by hiding in a 9 x 12 foot hole; crawl through a replica of their hiding place; walk through a ghetto; ride in a cattle car; explore a concentration camp; hear the stories of other Jewish families who managed to live through the genocide. Not recommended for younger children. 2000 East Cary St., Richmond, VA; +1 804 257 5400. Fee.

Virginia War Memorial Reflect on the sacrifice of all those Virginians killed in action from the beginning of World War II to the present; view the memorial walls engraved with over 11,600 names of those who died; and then tour the tribute rose garden overlooking downtown Richmond and the James River. 621 South Belvidere St., Richmond, VA; +1 804 786 2060.

Virginia War Museum Witness American military history from 1775 to the present unfold through weapons, vehicles, uniforms, and many other exhibits; learn about often overlooked members of the military with special exhibits on African-Americans and women at war. 9285 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA; +1 757 247 8523.

Wade's Mill Grind mill just like your ancestors at this historic traditional gristmill; take a class to learn antique cooking methods; buy some of the fresh grain to take home and turn into a creation of your own. 55 Kennedy-Wades Mill Loop, Raphine, VA; 800 290 1400.

Yorktown Victory Center Relive the events of the American Revolution, culminating in the decisive battle of Yorktown; see how ordinary men and women lived and worked during the Revolutionary period; muster with troops in a re-created Continental Army encampment and experience the life of an 18th c. soldier. Route 1020, Yorktown, VA; 888 593 4682. Fee.

Nature

Blue Ridge Parkway Drive this 469-mile scenic parkway, stopping along the way to take a guided hike from a park ranger; watch for a rare yellow-bellied sapsucker from one of the many overlooks; fish for bluegill; camp among the mighty Appalachia. Begins Waynesboro, VA; +1 828 271 4779. Fee.

The Chesapeake Bay Center Survey the wide variety of eco-friendly exhibits within First Landing State Park, Virginia's most visited state park; get up close and personal with the local wildlife at the wet lab; learn about the historic landing of English settlers here more than 400 years ago. 2500 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach, VA; +1 757 412 2316.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge Spot a green-winged teal or glimpse an exotic Sika; explore over 14,000 acres of beach, dunes, marsh, and maritime forest; wonder at the approximately 300 wild ponies that still roam the area; take a guided tour to the top of the 1830s Assateague Lighthouse for a splendid view Chincoteague, VA; +1 757 336 6122.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Explore scenic views, brilliant waterfalls, or glimpse a black bear, in the park's 20,000 acres; hike 70 miles of trails and stop in at the historic Hensley settlement; camp and play for days amidst the breathtaking Appalachian mountains. Hwy 25E, Cumberland Gap, VA; +1 606 248 2817.

Endless Caverns Probe deep into the heart of the earth as you tour this natural wonder; see stalagmites and stalactites and calcite formations. 1800 Endless Caverns Rd., New Market, VA; +1 540 432 8935; 800 544 CAVE. Fee.

George Washington and Jefferson National Forests Explore thousands of acres of pristine national forests; see a deer, then spend the night cut off from humanity in one of the nature cabins; hike and fish along the plentiful streams that crisscross the forest. 5162 Valleypointe Parkway, Roanoke, VA; +1 540 265 5100. Fee.

Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refugee Explore over 111,000 acres of forested wetlands at this national treasure; enjoy fishing, canoeing, and camping around 3,100-acre Lake Drummond; hike, bike, and bird watch to your heart's content. 3100 Desert Road, Suffolk, VA; +1 757 986 3705.

The State Arboretum of Virginia Tour this botanical wonderland, which includes the largest collection of boxwood trees on the continent; walk the Virginia Native Plant trail to explore the local flora of the state; discover culinary, medicinal, and ornamental herbs in the herb garden. 400 Blandy Farm Lane, Boyce, VA; +1 540 837 1758.

Science

Nauticus at the National Maritime Center Absorb the sights and learning of the world renowned maritime science center. Step inside a real submersible and pet starfish, horseshoe crabs, sea urchins, and even sharks. One Waterside Dr., Norfolk, VA; 800 664 1080. Fee.

Science Museum of Virginia Observe the effects of science on everyday life through hundreds of permanent and rotating exhibits; watch as Earth's rotation is proved on the Foucault pendulum, or play a round of laser pool at the laser exhibit; stop in to watch a breathtaking IMAX at the giant dome and planetarium. 2500 West Broad St., Richmond, VA; 800 659 1727.

Virginia Air and Space Museum View over 30 historic aircraft and learn from a 100 years of flight history at this interactive aviation gallery; launch a rocket, steer a space shuttle, or imagine yourself as an air-traffic controller at just one museum; look for the full-scale replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer. 600 Settlers Landing Rd., Hampton, VA; +1 757 727 0900.

Virginia Living Museum Experience all the natural history of Virginia in one museum; Explore the biospheres of a mountain cove, a steamy cypress swamp, or the underwater world of the Chesapeake; enjoy the native plant gardens and the nature boardwalk. 524 J. Clyde Morris Boulevard, Newport News, VA; +1 757 595 1900.

Virginia Museum of Natural History Uncover the world of Virginia's natural history at this attraction; go back in time to the age of woolly mammoths and mastodons at the Ice Age Café; learn by interaction at the hands-on Nature Nook, full of games, books, and puzzles. 21 Starling Ave, Martinsville, VA; +1 276 634 4141.